Great Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off - First Round Champion

Well, here we are, almost 5 months to the day, and 26 books later.

The first round of the Great Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off has been an interesting experience, and given me new-found appreciation for the job of an editor or agent. It really is a job and, as such, you go into it with a completely different approach than you might as a reader (or even as a reviewer). It's a volume business, with deadlines attached, and you're far more cognizant of the technical aspects because you're reading for a wider audience than just yourself.

Before I announce my First Round Champion, please allow me a moment to say a few words about my four finalists:

  • Sand of Bone by Blair MacGregor: The characters here were exceptionally strong and well-developed. The world building was a bit weak for me, but the social aspect of politics and family was well done. This was a violent, sometimes brutal read, but never without consequences.
  • Shattered Sands by William G Saraband: This distinguished itself from the first page. The characters were fantastic, full of both personality and surprises, and the world-building was solid, especially in terms of establishing a culture. If there’s any drawback, it’s that the story is so ugly and cruel that it makes for rather heavy reading at times.
  • Stormwalkers by K. Eric Mauser & Kevin Butterfield: This was a solid, thoroughly enjoyable read. It had an epic fantasy sense of scope, significant hints at greater world-building, and some very nice character development. Where the book floundered a bit for me was in its pacing, which is hard to ignore after such a stellar, raucous opening.
  • Dragon Fate by JD Hallowell: An all-round solid read, this was paced well, with great characters, an intriguing world, and a plot that flowed naturally from the opening scenes. If I were to have any complaints, it's that the dialogue felt a bit stilted and awkward at times, and that the actual plot development is more subtle than significant.

Selecting just one of these titles to be my Champion was tough. I put on that editor/agent hat, looked at each title from a commercial perspective, and tried to gauge which has the greatest success of embracing the widest possible audience.

That narrowed it down from two titles, from which I just had to go with my gut and trust my first impressions.

So, without further ado, my First Round Champion is . . .

Shattered Sands by William G Saraband


  1. Congrats to W G Saraband! I can't wait to read "Shattered Sands" during Round 2! I'm really looking forward to diving into what everyone else has declared the best of their batch! :D

  2. Congratulations, William G. Saraband! Very well done. Good luck on round 2! This has been great fun and very educational.

  3. Thank you so much, Bob! Your words were very kind, I feel very humbled to have made it this far, it's so unbelievable! :)


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